The key difference between narcolepsy and chronic fatigue is that narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that is characterized by daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep, while chronic fatigue is a chronic neurological disorder that is characterized by extreme tiredness and fatigue.
Narcolepsy and chronic fatigue syndrome are two disorders that share many common symptoms. Sometimes, people suffer from both these conditions. As treatment and complications of narcolepsy and chronic fatigue syndrome differ from each other, it is very important to get the right diagnosis.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Narcolepsy
3. What is Chronic Fatigue
4. Similarities – Narcolepsy and Chronic Fatigue
5. Narcolepsy vs Chronic Fatigue in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Narcolepsy vs Chronic Fatigue
What is Narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological sleep disorder. It is characterized by daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep. Those suffering from narcolepsy find it difficult to stay awake for long periods of time. This disorder can cause serious disruption to the daily routine of people. Sometimes, narcolepsy is characterized by a sudden loss of muscle tone called cataplexy. This condition is triggered by strong emotions. Narcolepsy with cataplexy is known as type 1 narcolepsy. Narcolepsy without cataplexy is known as type 2 narcolepsy.
The symptoms of this condition include excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden loss of muscle tone, sleep paralysis, changes in rapid eye movement sleep, and hallucinations. People that suffer from this medical condition may also suffer from other sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and insomnia. Moreover, those with narcolepsy sometimes experience automatic behavior during brief episodes of narcolepsy. It can be caused by low-level hypocretins, genetics, exposure to swine flu (H1N1), and a certain form of H1N1 vaccine that is currently administrated in Europe. The diagnosis of narcolepsy includes sleep history, sleep record, polysomnography, and multiple sleep latency test.
Narcolepsy is a chronic condition that does not have an exact cure. However, medications for narcolepsy include stimulants (modafinil), selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, and sodium oxybate. Other emerging treatments for narcolepsy include drugs acting on histamine chemical system, hypocretin replacement therapy, hypocretin gene therapy, and immunotherapy.
What is Chronic Fatigue?
Chronic fatigue is a chronic neurological disorder that is characterized by extreme tiredness and fatigue. This medical condition does not usually go away with rest and cannot be explained by an underlying medical condition. This condition is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID). Though the exact cause of this condition is unknown, it is believed that viral infection, psychological stress, or a combination of factors may trigger chronic fatigue syndrome. The risk factors for chronic fatigue syndrome include genetic predisposition, allergies, and environmental factors.
The symptoms may include feeling unrefreshed after a night’s sleep, chronic insomnia, other sleep disorders, loss of memory, reduced concentration, orthostatic intolerance, muscle pain, frequent headaches, multi-joint pain without redness or swelling, frequent sore throat, tender, and swollen lymph nodes. The diagnosis of this medical condition is through medical history, physical examination, and blood test to rule out other conditions like anemia, underactive thyroid gland, liver, and kidney problems. Chronic fatigue syndrome can be treated with medications such as antidepressants, drugs for orthostatic intolerance, and pain relievers. Furthermore, therapies for this medical condition include counseling, addressing sleep problems, and exercises.
What are the Similarities Between Narcolepsy and Chronic Fatigue?
- Narcolepsy and chronic fatigue syndrome are two disorders that share many common symptoms such as feeling tired during daytime, tubule with focus, unrefreshed after a night’s sleep, trouble falling asleep, waking up a lot during the night.
- Unmanaged narcolepsy and chronic fatigue may lead to depression, work absenteeism, and social isolation.
- Both are categorized under neurological disorders.
- The exact causes of both disorders are not known exactly.
- Both disorders can be triggered by genetic predisposition and psychological stress.
- They both affect the quality of life of a normal person.
What is the Difference Between Narcolepsy and Chronic Fatigue?
Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep, while chronic fatigue is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by extreme tiredness and fatigue. Thus, this is the key difference between narcolepsy and chronic fatigue. Furthermore, people who suffer from narcolepsy may experience cataplexy, but those who suffer from chronic fatigue do not experience cataplexy.
The below infographic presents the differences between narcolepsy and chronic fatigue in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Narcolepsy vs Chronic Fatigue
Narcolepsy and chronic fatigue are categorized under neurological disorders. Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that is characterized by daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep while chronic fatigue is a chronic neurological disorder that is characterized by extreme tiredness and fatigue. So, this is the key difference between narcolepsy and chronic fatigue.
1. “Narcolepsy: Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment.” WebMD.
2. Sampson, Stacy. “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” Healthline, Healthline Media.